The Dakota Access Pipeline had a little bit of a problem last month. But the pipeline's operator, and South Dakota state officials, say it's not necessarily a big deal.
About 84 gallons of crude oil leaked from a pump station along the pipeline on April 4, the Watertown Public Opinion reports. It happened in the rural town of Tulare, located in east-central South Dakota, state spill records show.
Brian Walsh, a scientist with state's environmental agency, told the Public Opinion all the crude oil was recovered with an absorbent material and put back into drums – Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the Dakota Access Pipeline, got it all cleaned up within the required timeframe.
The spill was pretty small (about two barrels, assuming they would use standard-size barrels) and did not threaten any drinking water, CNN reports. Energy Transfer Partners blamed it on a mechanical error, and said it had no impact on the area plus was cleaned up quickly.
Walsh explained to The Associated Press the leak wasn't publicized by the state because it wasn't a threat to the public in any way – which is protocol for issuing press releases on a spill.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responds
The Dakota Access Pipeline is of course the one that prompted months of protests in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, with occasional violent clashes with law enforcement. It was blocked by the Obama administration, then given the go-ahead by the Trump administration, and is on its way to transporting oil from the Bakken oil fields down to Illinois.
The protests last year were mainly over water concerns. The pipeline goes under Lake Oahe, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says a leak there would ruin its source for drinking water.
After the report of the small leak, Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement it proves what they've argued all along, that "oil pipelines leak and spill."
"Our lawsuit challenging this dangerous project is ongoing and it’s more important than ever for the court to step in and halt additional accidents before they happen – not just for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and our resources but for the 17 million people whose drinking water is at risk," he said.
Energy Transfer Partners has said the pipeline is being built in one of the safest, most technologically advanced ways possible.
That company by the way was recently blocked from some work on a natural gas pipeline in Ohio after 18 leaks spilled more than 2 million gallons of "drilling materials," some of which got into a wetland along the Tuscarawas River, the Washington Post reports.